Language description, history and development

Language description, history and development: Linguistic indulgence in memory of Terry Crowley. Ed. by Jeff Siegel, John Lynch, and Diana Eades. (Creole language library 30.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2007. Pp. xv, 514. ISBN 9789027252524. $195 (Hb).

Reviewed by Sandra Becker, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Kindness, generosity, hard work, and chocolate mousse are some of the words chosen by friends to describe Terry Crowley. Twenty-one books, more than seventy journal articles, and grammars of seven languages are part Crowley’s collected works. Indeed, his interest in Oceanic languages and pidgins and creoles as well as his extensive fieldwork has inspired the linguists, villagers, students, and friends who have crossed his path.

The thirty-four articles presented here make a significant contribution to the field of language description, history, and development. For those who have never met Crowley, this book presents an invaluable chance to get to know him. The touching introductory words of Jeff Siegel, John Lynch, Diana Eades, and Helen Harper illustrate Crowley’s enduring legacy.

This volume is divided into three parts. Part 1, which consists of eighteen articles, addresses the fundamental issues of ‘Language description and linguistic typology’. Oceanic languages and pidgins and creoles are the focus of this section. William R. Thurston provides an absorbing narrative on Anêm, a language of Papua New Guinea. The Australian aboriginal moribund language Warrwa is explored by William B. McGregor. Noun incorporation in Rembarrnga, a polysynthetic language spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia, is analyzed by Graham R. McKay. Verbal aspect in Yugambeh-Bundjalung is investigated by Margaret Sharpe. Anna Margetts deals with close and remote objects in Saliba, a Western Oceanic language. Hannah Vari-Bogiri presents the reasons why referential nouns such as people in Raga are associated with cultural and economic value. Ray B. Harlow’s contribution sheds light on the pragmatic issues that involve subject position and movement in Maori. Spatial terms in Marshallese, Kiribati, and Tokenlauan are described by Bill Palmer. Kenneth L. Rehg presents a detailed study on the controversial diphthongs in Hawaiian. Prosody and Samoan loanwords are investigated by Albert J. Schütz. Therese Mary Aitchison canvasses Tongan accent and Joel Bradshaw investigates ia-bracketing in Tok Pisin. The multifunctionality of Papiamentu ku is discussed by Claire Lefebvre and Isabelle Therrien. France Mugler discusses the influence of social variables on phonological variation in Fiji English. Modality in Australian English is examined by Peter Collins. The idiosyncrasies of coverb constructions are the focus of Mengistu Amberber, Brett Baker, and Mark Harvey’s contribution. Cindy Schneider describes verb serialization in Abma within a framework that expresses modality and adverbial functions, aspect, and direction. Nicholas Thieberger closes with an insightful article on contestable serial verbs in South Efate.

In Part 2, the focus is ‘Language history and historical linguistics’. Paul Black’s paper is based on Crowley’s early studies of Nganyaywana’s historical development. Another classical contribution of Crowley’s is revisited by Harold Koch. He examines word-initial truncation and offers significant insights into Arandic etymology. Malcolm Ross describes two kinds of Oceanic locative constructions that have been maintained for 3500 years. Robert A. Blust explores the prenasalized trills of Manus. Alexandre François offers a close look at noun articles in Torres and Banks. After analyzing the distribution of noun phrase articles across noun categories, François considers their syntactic functions. Elizabeth Pearce adds detail to the phenomena of phonologically conditioned change in Unua. Aromatic turmeric provides a framework for the investigation of Proto-Extra Formosan in Ritsuko Kikusawa and Lawrence A. Reid’s paper. Ross Clark studies the reconstruction of the Early Melanesian Pidgin lexicon and grammatical structure.

‘Language development and linguistic applications’ are covered in Part 3. A basic model for entries in a Raga-English dictionary is outlined by D. S. Walsh. The changes suggested take into account Raga linguistic and cultural context. Paul Geraghty offers a detailed profile of the Fijian language and presents the Fijian iVolavosa dictionary. Mark Donohue first outlines the guiding principles for a dictionary, and then describes his three-language dictionary project involving English, Tok Pisin, and One (spoken in Papua New Guinea). Roger Barnard outlines a platform for the comprehension of language education policies in New Zealand and offers insightful suggestions for their improvement. Ethnoeducation, the primary approach to the education of indigenous groups in Colombia, is addressed by Tony Liddicoat and Timothy Jowan Curnow. They represent an alternative voice on issues of endangered languages, language policy, and planning. Similarly, Michael Walsh provides an alternative voice for language endangerment. Robert Early examines the problems of mapping and analyzing indigenous living vernacular languages in Melanesia. The funeral protocols of speakers of the indigenous language Kaurna inspired Rob Amery and Dennis O’Brien. Their contribution shows how funeral liturgy brings people together to use the Kaurna language.

The authors and editors of this volume should be applauded. They have created a solid and well-organized book that will delight readers with its wealth of data and careful analyses.